This December, Asbury Park will pay a long overdue tribute to the creators of the Asbury musical sound. Many of the creators will take part in a once in a lifetime concert on December 9th at the Stone Pony and a permanent monument will be placed on the boardwalk containing the names of the musicians and performers that took the music to its limit by pushing the envelope and digging deeper to change the sound of Rock & Roll forever. We recently emailed Doc Holiday to talk about the show and monument.
When and how did the idea for the monument come about?
Actually it happened when I was on a break from a recording session in Nashville having lunch with Garry Tallent. We began talking about the old days in Asbury, and I had mentioned in passing to Garry that it was a shame that all the original guys that were working that scene in the 60's were all but forgotten about in the mist of the Bruce Explosion that happened in the 70's and how someone should really take note of the impact those guys had on the development of that sound. Garry agreed and with that the conversation went on to other subjects. Two days later I was driving back to my recording studio in Virginia and kept thinking about that thought of those originators lost in the shuffle, and somewhere around 3 in the morning in the middle of the Smokey Mountains on an interstate highway, I thought, I'm gonna see if there's interest in doing some sort of the tribute to those players from the Jersey Shore in the 60's. It was just supposed to be a little get together with some of the original guys who were still alive to meet again and play some music, That was it!
Well I thought, why not have a little jam session at the Stone Pony in Asbury, after all it all began in Asbury 45 years ago, so that made sense. So I had one of my staff call the Stone Pony and suggest the idea to them to see if was even possible. Well in short Caroline at the Stone Pony was so supportive of the idea, that it now seem like it may be possible, so with her help we decided to put this "Little Jam" together. But as I got into it, I realized that there were more people than just a few who were responsible for the creation of The Sound Of Asbury Park in the 60's. And why should they be left out of this, after all they were the true creators of that sound. We then put the word out to see how many of those original players were in fact still alive and see if there would be interest in joining in on this. The response was overwhelming to say the least, names that I had not even though about started to surface and the support of the get together was fantastic, everyone want a part of it! Then the next step came when I thought "These guys had been forgotten about for so long, Let's go the extra mile and have a monument for the Creators Of SOAP, with all the original players names on it and see if we can get it erected on the boardwalk so everyone will always remember the players that worked night after night on the Jersey Shore and pushed the musical envelope to create a sound of music that history would look back on and remember how it changed rock & roll forever.
Where will the monument be placed?
On the boardwalk next to The Convention Hall.
What was the reaction by Asbury Park towards the monument? Did you have any trouble securing the location for the monument?
The city went way beyond the call of duty on this one, The city manager Terry Reidy, and deputy mayor Jimmy Burno, went to bat on this one and got it done period. I think they both realized the importance of finally recognizing this contribution to music history and the importance of it actually being created in Asbury Park along with the people who created it, and their (Reidy, Bruno) personal commitment to bring back Asbury Park to its former heyday, that this was an important and first step that needed to be taken to recognize the musical history of Asbury Park, and that history, the people who wrote it and the times that were had during that era should never be forgotten.
Why do you think it is important to remember Asbury Park's music scene?
The sound, it's a blend of Rock, Pop, Doo Wop, Blues, Jazz, R&B and somehow those early players put all those ingredients together, That's what made the sound of Asbury Park, that is what the true SOAP is all about.
In your opinion, is the history of Asbury Park's music important on a national level as well?
National Level??? Try worldwide!!! Thanks to guys like Springsteen who took those roots to a worldwide level, the sound of Rock & Roll will never be the same. Bruce Springsteen alone took that early sound of Asbury, he pushed the musical envelope, he dug deeper in the music, and when he had it right he showed it to the world. And the world of music has never been the same. The players that went on past the 60's were responsible for perfecting that sound and bringing new blood into the music scene, and for that reason alone The Sound Of Asbury Park will keep reinventing itself to the end of time. But remember this tribute and event is all about the players who started that "fire".
Who are the musicians to be engraved on the monument?
Johnny Shaw, Billy Ryan, Bruce Springsteen, Garry Tallent, Steve Van Zandt, Mickey Holiday, "Stormin'" Norman Seldin, Vini "Maddog" Lopez, Fast Eddie "Doc Holiday" Wohanka, Billy "CherryBomb" Lucia, Clarence Clemons, Nicky Addeo, Donnie Lowell, Jim "Jack Valentine" Cattanach, Ken "Popeye" Pentifallo, Jay Pilling, John "Cos" Consoli, Gary "A" Arntz, Larry "The Great" Gadsby, Steve "Mole" Wells, Ray Dahrouge, Johnny "A" Arntz, David Sancious, Margaret Potter, Tom Potter, Sonny Kenn, Tom Wuorio, Rick DeSarno, Southside Johnny Lyon, Leon Trent, Buzzy Lubinsky, Danny Federici, Bill Chinnock., Patsy Siciliano, Sam Siciliano.
How did these artists get chosen?
The process for being included in that SOAP event came about as follows. Eight musicians were picked to start it off, and they had to be major players in the 60's that were well known on the Asbury Club circuit. Then their names were nominated to be placed on the monument, at that point each new name was voted on to be included by the names that were placed on the monument, in other words 8 nominees started it off and as the names were approved the number of voting members increased, so at the end there were 32 nominees voting. There were 271 names that were nominated and only 32 fit the qualifications to be included on this monument and they were all voted on by a majority vote of the nominees already approved and as you can see the list of names are pretty impressive. This may be the only time in history that these players will be on one stage at the same time back where it all began Asbury Park. Given the age and health of many of this players, this will never happen again. This is truly a once in a lifetime concert. It can never happen again.
It seems like a lot of the artists have moved to all parts of the country. Is this sort of a homecoming party for many?
This is a return to where we started, this is the trip that no one ever thought could happen and this is the concert that will be remembered forever.
Do you get the sense that the artists are really excited to see everyone again?
Everyone involved in this event is ready. This tribute to these players is long overdue and once again this will be a once in a lifetime event.
What do you hope happens after the monument?
I would hope that this would only be the start of the recognition of the musical history that Asbury Park has and continues to be on a worldwide level. And what we have started here will continue to grow and honor all the musicians who have played and continue to play a major part in the universal language called music. Those musicians who were and still are willing to "step outside the musical box" and create.
Do you have any further plans for the history to be remembered?
I'm sure once this door has been opened by the original creators as they did with the music 45 years ago there will be those who will walk through that door and take it to the next level just as they did with the original SOAP, they will once again take the remembrance of the musical history of Asbury Park, New Jersey and all who played and continue to play a part in that history to newer heights.
Finally, Asbury Park is in the midst of a major redevelopment plan - a plan that threatens a lot of the clubs currently in town. What are your thoughts on the redevelopment?
The Mayor, City Manager and deputy Mayor, will not stop until they have brought Asbury Park back to being the jewel of the Jersey Shore. I have met with these talented people and I feel and have seen first hand their passion for this redevelopment. THIS WILL HAPPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!
Do you think the music will be pushed aside for condos?
NEVER!!!!!!! That's what this tribute, concert and monument is all about. From now until the end of time, that monument will stand on the Asbury Park boardwalk and say "Dedicated To The Creators of SOAP" that will never be replaced! And they will never forget. All the profits from this concert are being donated in the name of "The Creators Of SOAP" to two local charities in Asbury Park, 'The Mercy Center' and 'Interfaith Neighbors'. We may have been forgotten in the past, but we will leave a big foot print this time around!
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.